In a previous article, we detailed various positive aspects of the digital age, explaining how Zoom meetings could provide us with an intimate glimpse into our colleagues’ private lives, which can eliminate the hierarchical barriers that separate people and help forge stronger links within an organisation. Once a few months had gone by and the video calls had piled up, a certain degree of laxness began to manifest itself in the professional etiquette displayed on these platforms… Some examples of which are more acceptable than others!
When videoconferencing, we’re in our own environment, our own personal space. It’s entirely natural to feel more relaxed, more at ease. But beware; all is not permitted! It is essential to never forget the all-important 5th wall: the computer screen that separates us from a world that has remained professional, critical, and reliant upon social etiquette.
Where is the middle ground between comfort and professionalism? The Lulu team will now present to you, through the use of various archetypes, 8 behaviours that lack professional ethics!
This archetype is characterized by a persistent need to do things like running their hands through their hair, fidgeting with their ear, and continually glancing down at the reassuring little thumbnail of themselves at the bottom of the screen.
SOLUTION: Close the window that displays your own image in order to focus more on your colleagues. For the longhaired among us, women and men alike, tying back your hair can help eliminate the need to continuously rearrange it (also a useful trick for bad hair days!)
The Too Comfortable
This archetype can be easily identified by its questionable posture. Sometimes with legs up on the table, sometimes with curved back, the Too Comfortable can also occasionally be seen sporting the infamous sweatsuit, which will make the meeting look like a pyjama party…
SOLUTION: Sit with your feet flat on the ground and make sure that you have a perfectly straight backrest to help encourage correct posture. A cushion for lumbar support or as padding on a seat can also help increase comfort and optimize your position for work.
The Overly Expressive
Recognizable by their hands, which wander around the screen from left to right, from top to bottom. Somewhat exhausting to their virtual public, the Overly Expressive speaks with hands more than with words, which can be disconcerting to interlocutors!
SOLUTION: Find an objet to occupy your hands! A stress relief ball, perhaps?
Somewhat in the same vein as the Overly Expressive, the Hyperactive is in perpetual motion. Dizzying their videoconferencing colleagues with their chair rolling on its casters from one side of the screen to the other, their ceaseless movement occasionally triggering minor desk tremors, they leave their virtual audience reeling.
SOLUTION: Plan shorter meetings and be sure to swap chairs that have casters with chairs that are stable and immobile. Maintaining a slight distance from your desk can also be a worthwhile trick to help minimize quakes!
The Multitasker doesn’t appear to be listening. Their gaze wanders to and fro, their eyes everywhere but on their interlocutor. Why? Because their attention is divided between four screens, three notepads, and two keyboards.
SOLUTION: Explain to your interlocutor that if your gaze appears furtive, it is simply out of necessity: you have a second screen on the left, and a notepad down below. It is simple enough to keep others informed of your physical situation and avoid ruffling any feathers!
Characterised by a busy – or even too busy – lifestyle, the Chaotic can be identified through background glimpses into their life situation. With a messy bed or empty cereal bowls, this archetype does not necessarily project confidence and professionalism at a glance.
SOLUTION: Though choosing to not use a virtual background can be an excellent decision, it is nevertheless ideal to properly arrange your chosen videoconference location: straighten picture frames, tidy up, and use tasteful decor.
Frequently told: “We can only see your forehead” or “Tilt your camera up just a bit” the Self-Conscious wants to be as invisible as possible: always showing less of them and therefore less of their environment.
SOLUTION: Self-confidence is key. A choice must be made to either activate your camera and stand by the decision, or simply keep the camera off.
A barking dog, a leaping cat, a lizard crossing the screen: this is how we recognize this archetype. As an animal lover, the Zookeeper may occasionally allow their passion to override their better judgement; by letting their pets interrupt important gatherings.
SOLUTION: We all love our pets. But when it is time for a professional meeting, they should not be walking across keyboards or barking at doors. Animals should be kept far away for the brief duration of a video call.
In the end, it all comes down to being mindful of how we develop our own particular screen habits. Though this article suggests a number of possible virtual missteps, it all tends to be largely anecdotal. After all, it’s better to laugh about it than to cry about it!
So, do you feel as though you personally identified with any of these archetypes?
© Illustration : Stephanie Heendrickxen